The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has hit out at the government panel that suggested the word ‘Muslim’ be dropped from its name as it doesn’t reflect the secular character, a report in The Indian Express said. In its formal response to the University Grants Commission (UGC), the university accused the committee of going beyond its mandate and called the suggestion ‘preposterous’.
AMU Registrar Javaid Akhter argued that the name gives an idea about the institution’s long history and unique character. “The name of the university gives us an idea about its history, purpose and character and preserving the same is our bounden Constitutional duty,” Akhter wrote to the government.
As per the IE report, Akhter contended that the committee “incorrectly draws the conclusion that by renaming AMU as Aligarh University would instil secular values”.
“One must recall that in India the concept of secularism arises more from the discourse of justice and equality than from an anti-religious position mostly practiced in the West,” his reply reads.
The response comes almost a year after a UGC panel recommended that words such as ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ in the names of universities – Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University, be dropped as they don’t reflect their secular value. According to the panel’s argument, the centrally funded institutions are secular ones but words related to religion in the names don’t reflect their secular character. It had suggested that the universities can be simply called Aligarh University and Banaras Hindu University or be renamed after their founders.
The Aligarh Muslim University is a central university that was established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875. It became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. The university claims that it is a minority institution governed by the AMU Act of 1981. However, the Allahabad High Court had in 2006 declared that the AMU is not a minority institution. This was subsequently challenged by the AMU in the Supreme Court which ordered status quo to be maintained.